Best of our wild blogs: 18 Apr 17

Mass coral spawning 2017
wild shores of singapore

Green Drinks x Fashion Revolution: Environmental Impacts of Textiles
Green Drinks Singapore

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Monkey bit elderly man on the leg

Alysha Chandra, The New Paper AsiaOne 18 Apr 17;

Madam Tan Lai Choo, 52, was on her way to take the bus to work yesterday morning when she noticed police cars and a commotion at Block 472, Segar Road.

She immediately thought of her father, Mr Tan Kim Leng, who regularly spends his mornings at the void deck beneath the block. Her fears were confirmed when she walked over to find her father had been attacked by a monkey.

The 77-year-old retiree had been sitting on a bench at around 7am when a monkey came from behind and bit his leg. Two passers-by called an ambulance and helped to stop the bleeding.

He now requires surgery, Madam Tan told The New Paper, and is warded at Ng Teng Fong General Hospital.

"I just want people to know that monkeys can be dangerous," she said.

The attack did not surprise the area's residents, who have encountered monkey problems in the last few months.

A resident of Block 472, housewife Rohana Ismail, 55, told TNP: "The monkeys come inside (our homes) and steal fruits and have scratched a few children at the playground.

"It has gone from bad to worse and something should be done before they hurt more people."

Mr Murugaian Elango, who also lives in Block 472, said monkeys climbed into his flat on the fourth storey 10 days ago, biting his elderly mother. She went to the hospital to get an injection.

Mr Elango filed a report of the incident with the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA), as have other residents.

A resident of Block 471, who was bitten by a monkey that entered her flat on the seventh storey, has even taken to placing flyers in the lift to warn her neighbours to close their doors and windows to prevent the monkeys from sneaking in.

Earlier this month, citizen journalism site Stomp reported two other cases involving monkeys chasing a woman and breaking into flats in Segar Road.

These blocks are close to Zhenghua Nature Park, which was expanded in 2015 and is a green buffer for the Central Catchment Nature Reserve.


The AVA told TNP it had received about 160 feedback on money attacks and nuisance in the Segar area since last October.

After surveillance, it deemed the monkeys as a public safety risk and has been conducting "monkey control operations" in the area, catching one monkey in November.

"Catching the monkeys can be challenging as they are very nimble. The many high-rise buildings in the area also make it easy for the monkeys to be out of reach by climbing up the blocks," an AVA spokesman said, adding that it is working with the Animal Concerns Research and Education Society.

AVA has worked with the Holland-Bukit Panjang Town Council to prune trees and harvest fruits from trees to mitigate the situation.

Monkey situation in Bukit Panjang a 'public safety risk': AVA
Melissa Zhu Channel NewsAsia 18 Apr 17;

SINGAPORE: The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) said the monkey situation at the Segar area in Bukit Panjang is a "public safety risk" after receiving about 160 reports of monkey attacks and nuisance in the area since October last year.

Two monkeys have been entering into homes at Segar, according to Member of Parliament for the Holland-Bukit Panjang Group Representation Constituency Liang Eng Hwa, and while one was caught in November last year, the other has been running free and becoming "more aggressive".

A resident, Ms Serene Lee, told Channel NewsAsia that the aggressive monkey has been climbing into houses and attacking people and that there have been at least four cases within a week.

Ms Lee added that her son, who is in Primary 6, was walking home from school with a friend two weeks ago when a monkey started chasing them from a distance. The children managed to run away, she said.

"We are all very worried about (the situation)," she added.

In a statement on Monday (Apr 17), AVA said monkeys may carry diseases harmful to public health, and those that are aggressive are also a risk to public safety.

An elderly man was hospitalised after being bitten by the wild monkey on Monday morning. Another resident, Ms Audrey Leong, posted a photo in a group for residents in the Segar Gardens estate showing what appeared to be blood on the floor near a bench. The man was sitting on the bench when he was attacked from behind by the primate, according to Ms Leong.

The Singapore Civil Defence Force sent the elderly man to Ng Teng Fong General Hospital after it received a call for assistance at the void deck of Block 472 Segar Road at about 7.10am on Monday, it said.

AVA said it was aware of the incident and was investigating.


Mr Liang said in a Facebook post on Monday that he had visited the injured man, whom he identified as "Mr Tan".

"Like everyone at Segar, I am very concerned about the lone monkey harassing and hurting our residents," he wrote.

Mr Liang said he had asked AVA to take "even stronger measures" to catch the monkey and that the authority has agreed to step up action.

The Holland-Bukit Panjang Town Council has also stepped up surveillance on monkey sightings and is working with AVA to catch the monkey, the Member of Parliament said, adding that he advised residents not to feed and provoke the monkey in the meantime.

After conducting surveillance in the area, AVA has also been conducting monkey control operations in the area, it said.

The agency is working with the Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (ACRES) to remove the monkey that is running free.

"Catching the monkeys can be challenging as they are very nimble. The many high-rise buildings in the area also make it easy for the monkeys to be out of reach by climbing up the blocks," it said.

AVA has also worked with the Town Council to prune trees and harvest fruits from trees in the estate to mitigate the situation, it added.

- CNA/mz

Monkey menace at Segar Rd a risk to public safety: AVA
Today Online 19 Apr 17;

SINGAPORE — In the past six months, there have been 160 instances of wild monkeys attacking people or causing a nuisance in the Segar Road area, said the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA).

Describing the situation as a “public safety risk”, the authority said it is working with the Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (Acres) to remove a monkey that has continued to wreak havoc in the Bukit Panjang estate since November last year, after another monkey was removed.

The update from AVA came after the monkey on the loose bit an elderly resident, Mr Tan Leng Choo, when he was lounging at the void deck of Block 472 Segar Road on Monday morning.

Checks on a Facebook group of residents in Segar Garden show there were posts on the monkey menace in their neighbourhood dating back to last November. Besides photos and videos of the monkeys, there were also photos of injuries residents suffered from attacks by the monkeys.

The cluster of flats face Zhenghua Nature Park, which was recently expanded to provide a larger green space for residents and increase the green buffer for the Central Catchment Nature Reserve. The park’s 3.8ha extension was officially opened in 2015.

In February, TODAY reported that residents have spotted monkeys appearing on most mornings and evenings, often climbing into homes, presumably in search of food.

Sales executive Ken Soh, 37, who sees the monkey several times a week when he leaves for work in the mornings, said: “We try to be careful after accounts of monkeys attacking. But sometimes, there’s little you can do because monkeys move very fast.”

Madam Janice Tan, 40, who has an eight-year-old daughter, said she was more concerned about children getting hurt.

The AVA told TODAY it had been conducting monkey control operations in the area and managed to remove one monkey in November. It has also worked with the Holland-Bukit Panjang Town Council to prune trees and harvest fruits from trees in the estate to mitigate the situation.

But it noted that catching monkeys was a challenging task as they are very nimble. “The many high-rise buildings in the area also make it easy for the monkeys to be out of reach by climbing up the blocks,” it said.

The AVA reiterated that its priority in managing the wild animal population is to ensure public health and safety are not compromised.

“For animals that pose significant public health or safety concerns, such as when animals enter premises and destroy property, injure residents or are potential carriers of disease, the AVA will work with the relevant stakeholders to explore removal or relocation options where possible,” it said.

“Monkeys may carry zoonotic diseases that are harmful to public health. Aggressive monkeys are also a risk to public safety.”

To avert encounters with monkeys, the AVA advised the public to keep food items out of sight and practise good refuse management, such as double-knotting garbage bags and throwing garbage in bins with secured lids.

It added: “The public is also advised against feeding monkeys as this alters their natural behaviour and causes them to become reliant on humans for food. As monkeys are attracted to food hand-outs from people, they may grab at plastic bags, or any other food containers that the monkeys have been conditioned to recognise.”

5 reported monkey attacks this week in Segar area, says AVA
Calvin Yang, The Straits Times AsiaOne 19 Apr 17;

As development continues and housing estates are built adjacent to green belts, the likelihood of wild encounters, such as monkey attacks could go up, say experts.

With nature areas being encroached by urbanisation, it is believed that less space is left for wildlife. The Segar area in Bukit Panjang is one recent example.

Since last October, the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) has received about 160 pieces of feedback on monkey attacks and nuisance in the estate.

The agency has deemed the monkey situation a public safety risk, adding that it has been conducting monkey control operations there. It is aware of five reported monkey attacks in the Segar area this week.

Holland-Bukit Timah GRC MP Liang Eng Hwa said: "While it is not uncommon for monkeys to appear at the estate, given our proximity to the nature reserve, this recent encounter has been the most serious, with incidents of residents being bitten by the monkey."

The Segar area is near the Central Catchment Nature Reserve.

Wildlife rescue group Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (Acres) said such wild encounters "will become inevitable, as the animals will use the green corridors adjacent to housing estates".

Experts noted that "hot spots" for conflicts between wildlife and humans often include areas near large swathes of nature, such as Bukit Timah Hill.

Mr Ben Lee, founder of nature conservation group Nature Trekker, said one problem is that the public may resort to feeding the wild animals.

"The monkeys become reliant," he said. "They may end up becoming aggressive."

In the Segar area, the monkey is so emboldened that it has been entering flats through the windows, stealing food and making a mess in residents' homes. Some people have also been bitten by it.

Acres said in a Facebook post yesterday that the behaviour of the monkey has been altered due to public feeding and harassment.

The Straits Times understands that the public has been feeding and provoking the monkey, such as throwing stuff at it. AVA said it is working with Acres to safely remove the monkey.

However, catching these intelligent creatures can be challenging.

"The many high-rise buildings in the area also make it easy for the monkeys to be out of reach by climbing up the blocks," it said.

The authority has worked with the Holland-Bukit Panjang Town Council to prune trees and harvest fruits from trees in the estate to mitigate the situation.

Meanwhile, AVA advised that residents can make their premises less attractive to monkeys by keeping food items out of sight and practising good refuse management.

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Demand for Malaysian durians in China may mean fewer, costlier fruit for Singapore

Jalelah Abu Baker Channel NewsAsia 17 Apr 17;

SINGAPORE: Durian lovers here may have to fork out more to get their hands on the king of fruit, with Singapore sellers reporting that Malaysian farmers are exporting more of their harvest to China and Chinese tourists buying the fruit at the Malaysians farms they visit.

As competition for durians increases, prices have risen steadily, said Ms Lilian Teo, 60, who has been selling durians for five years. She runs a shop with her father at the junction of Albert Street and Short Street near Little India.

“They (the suppliers) are exporting to China, so we get less supply and it’s more expensive,” she said.

For example, the Musang King, or Mao Shan Wang durian, was selling for S$8 per kg five years ago. Last year, that almost doubled to S$15 per kg, she said. Currently, fruit shops here are selling their supplies from Pahang at about S$28 per kg at the tail end of the current season. The Musang King durians are the most popular, given their creamy texture and small seeds, sellers said.

Mr Shui Poh Sing, 58, owner of Ah Seng Durian in Ghim Moh, said that while durians are not new to Chinese nationals, they were previously getting supplies from Thailand. More recently, they have been visiting durian farms in Malaysia, and getting their durians air-flown from there in vacuumed packaging, he said.

“They (the Chinese) are willing to pay higher for the durians up to double the amount that Singaporeans are typically willing to pay," he said.


Singapore's share of the Malaysian durian market may be shrinking, with Malaysian suppliers selling more of the fruit to China. Combat Durian’s Linda Ang said that her regular suppliers have told her about the shift in markets, which has affected her directly.

“There were times I ordered and they could only give me a limited amount, less than my order quantity,” she said. The higher prices have hurt her business too, with a 20 per cent fall in demand at her Balestier Road stall.

Other factors will also contribute to a smaller local supply this year. The crop is unlikely to be big which will keep prices high, said Mr Shui. This is because harvest cycles in durian plantations in states like Johor Bahru, Penang and Malacca have changed.

“When we have durians from different plantations at the same time, the prices can go down to as low as about S$12 per kg, but I don’t think that will be happening this year,” he said. The peak durian season is typically from May to August, but it is “chaotic” this year, he added. Durians from Johor Bahru were available from February, which is uncommon. He said the change was brought about by changing weather patterns.


Director of Malaysia’s Desaru Fruit Farm Alice Tong said that when she started off in 2006, she would see “hundreds” of Chinese tourists per week. Now, she sees thousands of them. And they are more willing to pay top dollar for the fruit.

“For every RM100 (S$32) that a Singaporean pays, the Chinese tourists pay RM200 or RM300.” They also buy in bulk, she said.

Business from these tourists made up just 10 per cent of the farm's sales three years ago, but now, this number has gone up to 35 per cent, said Mr Steve Er, who is also a director at the farm. "They really spend when they like and trust your products. Our fruit farm practises organic farming and they like it very much," he said.

Singaporean durian fan Seettha Wasudevan, 27, has noticed that the Mao Shan Wang durians that she loves have become increasingly expensive. She also finds that the durians are smaller.

But that has not stopped her and friends, who have been holding “durian parties” during the peak season for the past five years. They even have a regular vendor who brings over durians to any venue, and opens them on the spot, as long as they order a minimum of five. This is not a problem, as each of the group of 10 can eat one and a half durians.

She said: “We are all durian lovers. We won’t skip a year just because the harvest is bad, or because the price is high. We will still eat them.”

- CNA/ja

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Malaysia: Alien fish running riot in local rivers

ROSLI ZAKARIA New Straits Times 17 Apr 17;

KUALA TERENGGANU: PIRANHAS, African catfish, garfish, pirarucu, peacock bass, Chao Phraya high fin giant catfish and tilapia: these are all food fish in their countries of origin and are found in abundance in rivers, lakes and swamps, or bred in ponds in aquaculture projects.

Most of these fish species thrive in rivers and lakes many times bigger and deeper than the longest river in Malaysia.

In their natural environment, these fishes grow to monstrous sizes.

“All the fish mentioned above are carnivorous and predatory, including the tilapia which is an invasive species.

“Any minnow or fish that fits in their mouths will become prey and their voracious appetite helps them to grow to enormous sizes,” said Universiti Malaysia Terengganu (UMT) ichthyologist Dr Amirrudin Ahmad. These fish are native to the Amazon river (6,992km-long), Nile (6,893km), Congo (4,700km) and Mekong (4,350km).

In comparison, Malaysia’s longest river, Sungai Rajang, is just 563km long, while Sungai Kinabatangan is 560km and Sungai Pahang, 459km.

“The short span and narrow width of our rivers make it easy for predatory fishes to hunt for smaller fish like lampam, kelah, sebarau, kaloi, snakeheads (haruan, toman and bujuk), as well as the smaller Malaysian Clarias species (catfish),” said Amirrudin.

He said with the existence of these predatory fishes in local rivers and the proliferation over the years, it would not be long before indigenous species became depleted, or in the worst-case scenario — extinct.

“Although there are no records on when these fishes were released into the rivers, it is believed that some of these predators have been set free by hobbyists since the late 1980s.

“After such a long period, there is concern over the loss of aquatic biodiversity due to the introduction of these predatory and invasive species.

“A good example is the invasion of the red claw crayfish in Johor rivers,” he said.


As more of these predatory and invasive species being landed by anglers, it speaks volumes on the declining population of indigenous species.

“The Malaysian Quarantine and Inspection Services (Maqis) needs to tighten its supervision of live fish imports.

“Equally important, the live fish traders must be more responsible by providing the list of their imported fish to the Fisheries Department,” he added.

The next step is honesty in declaring the imported fish as true to the invoice.

The Fisheries Department and Maqis can also deter the import of banned species by explaining the laws and the penalties to importers. They should not entertain “I don’t know” excuses to escape punishment. Amirrudin said fisheries inspectors must be well-informed about banned species and able to identify the fish at first glance and at its juvenile stage.

Local fish shops and hobbyists also must be educated on the prohibitions.

Local fish shops, especially, must be required to display the list of banned fish at their outlets.

“A hotline, or toll-free telephone number to the Fisheries Department should be displayed as big as the ‘No Smoking’ signage in the shops to allow the public to report sales of banned species,” he added.

He said fish farms must not be allowed to breed certain species, especially breeders who grew the fish in cages along rivers and in lakes, because most of the catfish species from the Amazon rivers, for example, could grow to monstrous sizes.

“In some years, we hear reports of fish cages being damaged and African catfish escaping into the rivers in Terengganu, Pahang and Perak. Unless a foolproof method is found, these fish should be bred in ponds,” he added.


Similarly, anglers share the same responsibility.

Any predatory foreign species caught must not be released back into the river. Predatory fish such as pirarucu (Arapaima gigas), alligator gar (Lepisosteus), peacock bass, Chao Phraya high fin giant catfish (Pangasius sanitwongsei) and red tail catfish (Phractocephalus hemioliopterus) have been reeled in by anglers in most major rivers in the country.

When such fish snaps up the baits from rods and lines, it reflects a horrifying reality that the population in these rivers have grown.

And the sizes of the peacock bass, red tail catfish and Chao Phraya high fin catfish which look like the local patin, commonly indicate that these predators have been in the rivers for more than two years.

Religious and cultural releases (bayar nazar) of African catfish, which can grow to an enormous size, by the community should be replaced with the release of indigenous species such as lampam, baung, kelah or the smaller local catfish.

“The Fisheries Department should conduct a careful study on whether a fish species is safe for the biodiversity before introducing it for economic purpose.

“What use is development and intense food production if they cause the extinction of natural assets?

“When the natural resources are damaged by aquaculture or development, it can only be called destructive,” Amirruddin said.

State Fisheries Department director Zawawi Ali said hobbyists generally dumped predatory fishes into rivers when their pets could no longer fit into their tanks or when they lost interest in the hobby.

“Feeding big fish is costly. This may also be another reason they have to dispose of their pets,” he said, adding that the problem would arise when hobbyists imported predatory fish species without verifying with the department whether the species was banned.

Alien fish invasion: Local importers at fault

ROSLI ZAKARIA New Straits Times 17 Apr 17;

KUALA TERENGGANU: Dishonest importers who manipulate procedures are to be blamed for the entry of banned fish species into the country.

They bring in the banned species with those allowed by wrongfully declaring import documents.

Some fish like the pacu, which is closely related to the piranha family, or the Chao Phraya high fin giant catfish (Pangasius sanitwongsei) which looks like the local patin, would be difficult to identify when it is small.

The similar appearance can dupe anyone into thinking that these fishes are safe to be grown in the aquarium until they become large enough to be identified as predatory or banned species.

Unless Customs officers stationed at entry points are trained to visually detect banned species, chances are it will go through and end up in the many water bodies nationwide.

Sources close to the ornamental fish industry said there were not many importers of fish species because of the stringent process of obtaining a licence from the Fisheries Department.

“But huge profits made from high price tags on predatory species attract many to the illegal trade,” he said, adding that many end up borrowing, sharing or using the licence of others to bring in their stock.

“At the end of the day, when the fish arrives, they will still need the services of agents or handlers to clear the fish at the Customs checkpoints.

“This is where dishonesty becomes a factor that enables fishes in the banned list to get cleared.

“Fish can also be smuggled in luggage, mineral water bottles, thermos flasks and plastic bags at border checkpoints.

“Some of these smugglers also come prepared by manipulating the labelling of the species and declaring much lower prices for a banned or exotic species,” the source said.

Unless the loopholes are plugged — indigenous fish in Malaysia will continue to be threatened.

Banned foreign species also bring about diseases that can destroy the population of aquatic life in natural water bodies where they are released.

Alien fish invasion: Peacock bass taking over
ADIE SURI ZULKEFLI New Straits Times 17 Apr 17;

PADANG BESAR: FOR the past year or so, Abdul Azhar Abdul Aziz, 29, a freshwater fishermen at Timah Tasoh Dam in Padang Besar, Perlis, has been earning a side income by renting his boat to anglers.

The state water catchment area is fast emerging as a hotspot among avid anglers in the northern states, who crave the thrill of catching the prized peacock bass, or ikan raja, as it is known among the locals.

Despite the boon, Azhar could not hide his grave concern, which is also shared by dozens of fishermen, whose livelihood depend on catching native fish species, such as lampan, tilapia and haruan in the man-made lake.

While the peacock bass attracts sports anglers, the species is also a ruthless predator.

Azhar could not tell how the peacock bass, which originated from Brazil, found its way into the lake, but the locals believed that it was released by those who reared the fish in aquariums.

“I think we began realising its presence less than two years ago, and ever since then, I noticed that we have been catching fewer native fish species.

“Until now, I could say the number of local fish that we are landing has dropped by almost 20 to 30 per cent, while the number of ikan raja is increasing tremendously,” he said.

While the peacock bass is popular among anglers, the fish does not have commercial value because the flesh is tasteless.

“Last year, the state Fisheries Department released 50,000 lampan fry into the lake to improve the native fish population .

“We had a rude shock when we saw how they were swarmed and eaten up by the peacock bass, and I think only a handful of the fry survived,” he said.

What worried him most was that some of the fishermen and local folks had spotted the peacock bass swimming in rivers downstream.

“The Fisheries Department told us to catch the ikan raja as many as possible and throw them away. We are also encouraging anglers to take home the fish.”

Azhar said he feared that the whole native species in the lake would perish in the next two or three years.

Another fisherman, Haiful Anuar Hassan, 36, said his daily income had suffered a severe plunge from RM100 to between RM30 and RM40 at the most.

A fishmonger, Abdul Wahab Khamis, 60, said his business was also suffered when the fishermen caught fewer native species.

“I have been plying this trade for 14 years and I noticed that the number of ikan raja has been growing rapidly over the last two years. Now it makes up almost 30 per cent of the fishes landed by the fishermen.”

Should this situation continue, chances are, the Timah Tasoh Dam, which is known for its delicious “pekasam fish” made of lampan, haruan and tilapia from the lake, will lose it for good.

Alien fish 'killing' local boat operators
ROSLI ZAKARIA New Straits Times 17 Apr 17;

KUALA TERENGGANU: The invasion of the banned red claw crayfish (Cherax quadricarinatus) in several rivers in Johor has become so devastating that angling boat operators hired by giant shrimp anglers have to literally close shop.

Mohamad Said Hassan, 47, from Tangkak, Johor, who invested his income, partly derived from fishing giant shrimps, in 20 boats, is looking at a bleak future now that anglers no longer hire his boats.

“Business was bad last year. My boats were hired for only one month. I had no business for the rest of the year because the population of the red claw crayfish and African catfish in Sungai Muar has upset the ecosystem,” he said.

“This river used to be a haven for giant shrimp anglers. But now, the baits are either taken by crayfish or African catfish,” said Said, who claimed to have witnessed a group of people releasing three tonnes of catfish into the river to fulfil religious vows.

He said while the African catfish devoured any kind of fish, the red claw crayfish were omnivorous and would eat anything from fish, snails, aquatic plants, algae to sunken wood.

“It is an efficient aquatic scavenger, and for that reason, the red claw crayfish have destroyed breeding grounds of indigenous species and the natural food on which the local species depend,” he added.

Mohd Ilham Norhakim Lokman, 30, a fish seller in Muar, Johor, said he used to catch many giant shrimps, but since last year most of his shrimp traps were filled with crayfish.

He said the crayfish were abundant in the clear river water, brackish water and black water streams as well as in the irrigation canals and in the Bekok Dam in Muar.

Norhakim said he had consulted the Fisheries Department and ichthyologists on the threat of the red claw crayfish, but nothing much could be done to stop the invasion.

“If predatory fish is considered destructive to the aquatic biodiversity, the red claw crayfish is devastative. The damage is done and the days of local aquatic species, including aquatic plants, are numbered,” he added.

The red claw crayfish is native to freshwater creeks and water bodies in tropical Queensland, the Northern Territory of Australia and southeastern Papua New Guinea. It has been widely translocated around the world, and is considered an invasive species.

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Wildlife crime 'threatens nearly half the world's heritage sites'

Matt McGrath BBC 18 Apr 17;

An Indian rhinoceros seen in Chitwan National Park, Nepal.

Poaching, illegal logging and fishing are threatening endangered species in some of the world's most iconic natural sites, according to a report.

Conservation charity WWF says almost half of the world's 200 designated heritage sites are "plagued" by wildlife criminals.

These include the last refuges for critically endangered javan rhinos and wild tigers.

The authors say more co-ordination is needed to target the whole crime chain.

From the Great Barrier Reef to the Galapagos Islands and at many other locations across the globe, Unesco has designated around 200 natural World Heritage sites as being of outstanding international importance and deserving of the highest levels of protections.

WWF looked at the threats to species that are already protected under the Convention on the International Trades in Endangered Species (Cites).

The authors found that these threatened animals and plants are poached or illegally harvested in 45% of natural World Heritage sites.

Many of the parks in the study are home to critically endangered creatures - including Ujung National Park in Indonesia, which is the last stand for around 60 javan rhinos.

The Okavango Delta World Heritage site in Botswana is a key location for elephants in the north of the country, which make up almost a third of all remaining African elephants.

Selous Game Reserve in Tanzania is one of Africa’s largest wildernesses. But in 2014, it was put on the Unesco list of World Heritage sites in danger, mainly due to increased poaching.

"You have got the world's most cherished species on the one hand, and on the other the world's most cherished sites, they are inextricably linked," said Dr Colman O'Criodain from WWF.

"Of course there's the economic value of these sites, but these are special places, they give you a lump in your throat when you see them and if we really want to cherish these we all have to step up."

Between 1970 and 2012 global wildlife populations declined by almost 60% on average.

According to the report, what's going on here is not just unsustainable practices in fishing and logging, but criminality.

The illegal trade in species is said to be worth around £15bn ($19bn) a year, with the unlicensed timber trade said to be responsible for up to 90% of deforestation in major tropical countries.

Over a two year period, the illegal rosewood trade in Madagascar has cost locals up to $200m in lost income.

Like many other locations, simply designating an important site as part of world heritage, isn't enough by itself to stall the criminals.

"In the case of Madagascar there is a lot of corruption and weakness of government on their side and there is complicity among highly placed people in what is going on but support from importing countries and the wider international communities will help a lot," said Dr O'Criodain.

The report points out that the illegal trade in species at natural heritage sites is having a significant impact on people's livelihoods as the disappearance of rare animals and plants can deter tourists. In Belize, for example, more than half of the entire population are supported by income generated through reef tourism and fisheries.

There is also a more direct and deadly human cost in terms of lives lost, with at least 595 park rangers killed protecting key sites between 2009 and 2016.

Current approaches to stemming illegal trade are just not working, the study concludes.

It suggests that rapidly increased co-operation between Cites and the World Heritage Convention could help turn the tide.
"This report provides a range of options to further enhance co-ordination between Cites and the World Heritage Convention, focused around World Heritage sites," said John Scanlon, Director General of the trade convention.

"It is essential that Cites is fully implemented and that these irreplaceable sites are fully protected. In doing so, we will benefit our heritage and our wildlife, provide security to people and places, and support national economies and the rural communities that depend on these sites for their livelihoods."

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